I’m Embarrassed About My “Number”


“Oh my God, I can’t believe I went home with him,” my friend, Alex, groaned as she flopped down on my shitty, University provided couch. I smiled sympathetically at her over my coffee as I tossed back three Advil and offered her the bottle.

“So what did you guys do after I left?” she inquired, as she gulped a few pills and pulled her hood up.

“Oh, we just hung around more. I got really fucked up. I did some tequila shots, and then Michael asked me if I wanted to have sex right there…” I trailed off, feeling my face turn red.

“What do you mean, right there?” Alex fired back, peeking out from her jacket.

“Like, there. In the bar. I knew he was kidding, but I was drunk, you know? So I grabbed his hand and pulled him to the bathroom.”

“You didn’t!” Alex blurted, sitting upright in her chair, a slow smile curling on her lips.

“I did,” I nodded. “But the boys bathroom has an attendant, and the guy wouldn’t let me it. So we went to the girls. And I just went to the handicapped stall, pulled down my pants, and went for it.”

“You’re insane!” Alex shouted, before diving back into the story of her one-night stand.

For all intents and purposes, people think I’m really sexual. Experienced. A slut, even. And why wouldn’t they? I’ve done things you wouldn’t dare try, and I’m always down to do something new. Threesome? Done that. Anal? For sure. In public? In a canoe? In my childhood bed? In my parents’ bed? Done, done, done, and done. But when the topic of numbers, one-night stands, and casually hooking up comes about, I usually fall silent. The thing is, despite my openly explorative ways, I’m embarrassed about my number of sexual partners. But not for the reason you might think.

I’m embarrassed because I have a low number.

Seems strange, right? Having a low count is what guys want, so we’ve been told. They want a girl who’s taken a dick but hasn’t tried them all. A girl who knows her way around a penis but haven’t been around every penis. I’m not saying all guys think this. I’m not even saying any guys think this (they do, though). It’s just what we’ve been programmed to think.

But on the other side, when you’re at brunch with your friends, or laying on the floor hungover and gossiping about the night before, no one wants to hear about the sex you had with your boyfriend. Those aren’t the stories we’re after. We want the shack shirts. The drama with his ex. The rush of staying in a new frat house and the rollercoaster of liking a guy, but keeping things casual.

Because nowadays? It’s not cool to be the girl with a committed boyfriend. It’s not ~aDvEnTuRoUs~ to be the one who has sex with the same guy every night (or three times a week, let’s not get crazy). This is college. We’re young. Why would you tie yourself down? It’s the question I’ve been asked and hinted at, pushed for and looked down upon. Because my number, which I can demonstrate using ONE HAND, makes me look like a prude. I could beat around the bush and try to defend myself, but no matter what I say, or how often I give a blowjob, my small number makes me feel bad.

So why not change it? Why not do something about it? Why not dump the boyfriend and get some strange? Because in the quiet little corner of my heart, where my darkest secrets and biggest dreams lie, the truth is sitting there, steadfast as it has been all of my life.

Despite the world we live in, despite the media and the marketing and the casualness of it all, I think sex is special.

I can’t say why, exactly, I’m like this. Maybe it’s because I’m a boyfriend girl. I enjoy being in relationships. Every time I wanted to keep things casual, they blossomed into something more. Maybe this is because of my stellar personality, or maybe it’s a psychological downfall, hinting that I hate being alone. I’m not sure which it is. I’m also not sure it really matters. Because whether it’s the way I’m wired or just the way I’ve responded to sex since I was sixteen, I can’t hide how I feel, no matter how often I try. I’m down to fuck in doggy, and give a messy blowjob and wear a costume and take a spanking and partake in a little light choking (it’s what some people like, be cool). But when all is said and done, I think having sex with someone is special.

UGH. So lame, right?

But I just can’t help it. The feeling of the person’s lips on yours. The sharp intake of breaths. The vulnerable moment after, when a rush of emotions flood you. The tears in your eyes after a romantic round or the high fiving and jokes after something funny happened. The hasty whispered conversation in bed after, giggling about everything or gazing at each other fondly. That’s what makes sex so meaningful to me. That’s what makes it impossible for me to change.

For awhile, this was hard for me. I’d make out with guys at the bar, but when they would ask to come home, I would turn them down. I’d stretch out in their beds and swap oral all day, but unless I like them, unless it felt like something more, I could never go all the way. For the longest time, I felt bad about it. Hell, if I’m being honest, to this day I sometimes feel like I missed out. After years of watching my friends go home with different guys, and giggle as their numbers went up, I coasted at a tiny number, wondering if I should change. But despite trying and wishing, I couldn’t do it. I could do them. The random guys. And when I did? It always turned into more.

At this point in my life, I think I’m happy the way I am. Sure, I feel left out sometimes, as my friends share stories from the sluttiest times in their lives. My shack shirts are reduced to boyfriend shirts, which doesn’t seem as impressive. I’ve never crept out of a random guy’s apartment and I’ve never felt the sting of never hearing back from a penis that went inside of me.

But at night when I’m falling asleep next to my number five, I feel better. Maybe it’s okay that I never had “my” time. Maybe I didn’t need it. Because the cold, hard, awkward truth is that in this sexually adventurous world we live in, numbers seem to matter. They shouldn’t. But they do. Whether it’s how you feel about your own, or how someone you like feels about yours, it’s something we either defend to the end or wish we could change. But whichever side you’re on, whether it’s a number so big you hate to utter it aloud, or one so small, you feel somewhat inferior, know that at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. The only numbers we should feel defined by are the number of orgasms we have, and the number of zeros on our paychecks.

And if all else fails, I hear lying is all the rage right now.

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